Action 2020 has voted to endorse the following candidates in the Oakland school board election.
In District 1, we endorse Stacy Thomas.
Motivated by the closures of Roots International Academy and Kaiser Elementary School over the objections of the community, Ms. Thomas was a part of Action 2020's fight to reform the school board even before she decided to run for office. As the owner of a bookkeeping business, and armed with an understanding of what FCMAT has done to the school district, we believe she is best positioned to help create a budget that serves all schools and all students. As a former volunteer with the Centerforce Youth Court restorative justice program, she would fight to see similar principles brought to Oakland schools. We're happy to join the John George Democratic Club and Oakland Rising Action in endorsing her.
In District 3, we endorse Cherisse Gash first, and VanCedric Williams second.
Ms. Gash comes to the race with a deep understanding of the problems facing the Oakland Unified School District as both a parent and an activist, and has backed that understanding up with action. When Henry J. Kaiser Elementary was being closed, we saw Ms. Gash at every single meeting, fighting and protesting day and night. We believe she would be an effective advocate for the values of Action 2020 in the fight against school closures and privatization, and we are happy to join Oakland Not For Sale in endorsing her as our #1 pick in the ranked-choice election.
Mr. Williams is a longtime union activist in the United Educators of San Francisco, and has also earned the endorsement of the Oakland Education Association teacher's union. While we've endorsed Cherisse Gash for our first pick, we believe that Mr. Williams would also be an effective ally on the school board, and certainly vastly preferable to candidates openly aligned with pro-privatization groups. As such, we endorse him as our #2 pick in the ranked-choice election.
In District 5, we endorse Mike Hutchinson.
Mr. Hutchinson is a long-time education activist, and many of us in the struggle around education have learned much from him. He is a fighter who is aggressively knowledgeable about the details of education and school board policy, and is committed to the idea that every child deserves a quality education. He is staunchly opposed to the charter school movement and groups that wish to use Oakland as a testing ground for privatization. He is our clear pick for the District 5 seat.
In District 7, we endorse Ben "Coach" Tapscott.
As a coach and educator, Mr. Tapscott is already a legendary figure in East Oakland, and has decades of experience in the issues that Action 2020 is fighting for. Few other candidates demonstrate the kind of empathy for the students they wish to represent, and he has a long track record of invigorating the schools where he was an educator. He is no newcomer to the school board fight, was an active participant in the fight around the closure of Kaiser, and is more than aware of the money games that administrators and the current school board play. He has demonstrated that he will fight for a quality public education for every student, and is our clear pick for the District 7 seat.
Additionally, Action 2020 has voted for negative endorsements of candidates endorsed by Great Oakland Public Schools: Austin Dannhaus in District 1, Maiya Edgerly and Mark Hurty in District 3, Leroy Gaines in District 5 and Dr. Clifford Thompson in District 7. GO Public Schools represents the charter school and privatization movement, a movement pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into this election, and we do not believe Oakland school board should be beholden to it. As such, we recommend leaving these candidates off the ballot entirely in the ranked choice election.
Oakland Public School Action 2020 is an association of parents, students, teachers and residents united in support of our Oakland public schools. We want a school district that makes high-quality education, excellent teachers, and a supportive and healthy student social experience the top priorities for all our students. We want programs and electives to offer the students and parents the choices they want and need in their neighborhood community schools. We want every student to achieve a high school diploma that has academic value and has provided practical life skills and cultural enrichment.
WE BELIEVE THAT:
- Public schools are the cornerstone of our democracy.
- Taxpayer dollars must go only for our public schools democratically governed by the community they serve.
- A public school hires public employees who enjoy public service protection, employment stability, and their own elected leaders of their independent unions represent them.
- A public school has the social responsibility to enroll all students and provide a pathway to success for every one of them.
- A public school should be part of making good on the promises of class and racial equity, economic justice, and be run in the context of social solidarity.
- School board directors should responsibly manage our schools with transparency and constant consultations with the community.
- Functioning neighborhood schools should be not be closed down, consolidated with others, or sold off to developers.
The current school board DOES NOT share this vision of public schools.
- Outside billionaires meddle in our elections by pouring huge amounts of money into efforts to privatize our public schools.
- The Oakland Unified School District board currently favors these fake charters that compete with the public schools.
- The result is poor district services, local school maladministration, school board financial mismanagement, and constant crisis.
The current OUSD board members have not shown themselves to know how to use inclusive and open process. They are not independent of their political friends. In particular, the current school board majority is an ally of the privatization movement that provides them with political and material support, including obscene amounts of campaign money.
The current OUSD board is dominated by a movement that calls itself “pro-charter” and in favor of “school choice” and provides neither true public charters nor options for our students. The choices are a rat race where parents compete against each other to get their students into schools that are perceived to be better based on standardized test scores. The so-called “charter school movement” uses public money to run unaccountable private schools that are merely a continuation of the voucher system.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Education should not be an illusion of marketplace “choice” in which parents must compete with each other to get their children “the best deal” by shopping for a school like they shop for a TV set. Oakland students are not best served by a failed system of unaccountable school privatization, complete with fraud, greed, and mismanagement, that has not just undermined democratic governance of their schools, but has created, according to an Alameda County Grand Jury report, an OUSD corrupt culture of “What’s in it for me?”
Therefore, Action 2020 is committed to support an anti-incumbent slate of pro-public school candidates in districts #1, #3, #5, and #7 in the November 2020 election.
Action 2020 will:
- Recruit and/or encourage candidates who share our vision and who are willing to work together as a slate that supports one another and is independent of political, business or nonprofit conflicts of interests and has no ties to, or support from “pro-charter” organizations or their affluent backers.
- Supplement the four district campaigns with a citywide effort that seeks support and donations from all seven of Oakland’s districts. We will campaign for all four slate candidates together. We will take actions to make sure that every Oakland voter is aware of the choices and consequences of this coming school board race. We will work to inform the public on all the issues involved.
- Commit to work with our endorsed candidates on a common platform that keeps all of our schools open and all our teachers working with the support that they need.
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